Saving Seed Equals Healthier Plants

Howdy Seeders!Young, healthy seedlings are ready to be thinned, repotted, or planted outdoors. Image copyright Jill Henderson

I want to share a bit of seed saving and sowing insight from Master Seedsman, Justin Huhn.  Justin’s blog, The Seedkeepers, is a wealth of information for anyone wanting to learn more about seed!  Be sure to dig deeply through his site and be sure to sign up for his weekly email newsletter, from which the following originated…

In my last email, I told you a bit of my story and mentioned something that shifted for me when I started to have major successes in my garden…

I changed my gardening mindset from hobby to responsibility.

There are two other gardening practices that hugely influenced the health of my garden and the size of my yields.

In today’s email I’ll discuss the first practice that was a major game changer:

I planted more than I thought I needed. Way more.

This started with buying more seeds than I thought I needed (AND I started to save MY OWN seeds).

When you buy seeds in bulk or save your own seeds you have excess seed to plant, which allows you to over-plant. This gives you the opportunity to be liberal with your sowing, and more importantly to thin your plants, leaving the strongest plants remaining to grow to fruition.

**Buying seeds in bulk – and even more so, saving seeds – gives you a seed cushion. It may seem unconscious when it comes time to plant, but this ‘cushion’ gives you permission to plant more.

As a metaphorical example, think about your seed stock as money in the bank. If you have nothing more than a few dollars in your pocket, you aren’t going to spend extra money on healthier food, new clothing, or great experiences…right?

But on the flip-side, if you have even a small ‘cushion’ of savings, you’re more likely to spend a little on goods and experiences that improve your life and your well-being.

So…start this year’s garden by buying at least one of your favorite varieties in bulk. (NOTE: it doesn’t necessarily make sense to buy tomato, pepper, or zucchini seed in bulk, for example…you might only have up to a dozen plants and even a small packet usually has 20-25 seeds).

Start with carrots or lettuce, beets or kale. Buy the next size up from a small packet. If your favorite seed company doesn’t offer bulk sizes, try a different company…at least for this bulk purchase. (I like & support Adaptive Seeds, High Mowing, Johnny’s, Sustainable Seed Co.)

You’ll notice that the cost per seed goes WAY down when you buy in bulk.

For example, at Sustainable Seed Co., ‘Danvers 126 carrot’ seed is $1.99 for a 1/2 gram packet…and $9.99 for 1 oz.

If you do the math, 1 oz. of this seed would equal 56, 1/2 gram packets…or $111.44!! That’s a serious savings. This bulk discount exists with most varieties from most seed companies. Many varieties’ seeds will last for at least a few years, so assuming you will continue your garden, buying seeds in bulk is a wise investment.

Even better and more valuable is to save your own seeds.

My first crop of kale seed from about 40 plants resulted in over 4 pounds of excellent-quality kale seed. This seed is 5 years old now, and still germinates over 90%. Four pounds of kale seed is roughly $600 of seed (retail value), and is much more valuable when sold (up to $10,000 if sold in small packets).

***More importantly, with four pounds of seed, I was able to sow very thickly, thinning plants at every stage (and of course eating the thinnings), and selecting for the strongest plants to grow to full size.

I hope that tip helps you shift how you think about buying or saving seeds and planting this year.

My next tip has to do with the problem of time management in the garden…more specifically, finding the time at all to be in the garden. I know most of us struggle with this, and I have some great advice that will help you find time for your garden in the next email…


For more great seed saving tip and tricks, visit Justin at his blog The Seedkeepers


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